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Stem cell research hopes to repair brain damage of Parkinson's disease
Date:11/11/2011

rain cells that form an essential pathway in the brain circuitry controlling movement.

Drs Parish and Thompson's respective research groups have developed a novel technique using stem cells to replace the dopamine-producing brain cells.

The first step of the technique is led by Dr Parish's team which has expertise in generating the dopamine brain cells that are missing in Parkinson's disease.

"By following what we know about brain development we have been able to re-create an environment in the culture dish that allows us to generate specific cell types that may be therapeutic," she said.

"A limitation of the procedure, however, is that it is inefficient. This means that only around 30 per cent of the cells become dopamine brain cells while the others may remain as stem cells. This poses significant risks in a transplantation setting because the stem cells may continue to grow and form tumours," she said.

Dr Lachlan Thompson's team is working on an innovative approach using a state of the art cell-sorting technology to solve this problem.

"Overall we have identified some interesting findings that help us to isolate the dopamine brain cells and discard the stem cells prior to transplantation," he said.

"It's a strategy that we hope will bring us a step closer to clinical trials for a stem cell based treatment for Parkinson's. The broader significance is that this novel approach will likely be applicable to the development of stem cell-based treatments for other neurological conditions such as stroke, motor neuron disease and Huntington's disease," he said.

"There is still a lot of basic research to do to develop this technology to a point where it would be safe to proceed with trials in patients, however, there's no reason to think that it couldn't happen within the next 5-10 years with the proper funding."

Stem Cells Australia is a collaboration with eight Australian research partn
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Contact: Rebecca Scott
rebeccas@unimelb.edu.au
61-383-440-181
University of Melbourne
Source:Eurekalert

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